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AI-powered personalised medicine project launches in UK and EU

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non-invasive new imaging technique was tested on four human patients.

An innovative project using AI to personalise therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease has been launched in the UK and EU.

The NextGen project has received €7.6 million (£6.4 million) from the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and will be delivered by a 21-member consortium, including the European Society of Cardiology.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, accounting for nearly 18 million fatalities each year.

In the EU, CVDs are responsible for approximately one third of deaths and estimated to cost the EU €282 billion (£239 billion) annually, equivalent to 2 per cent of Europe’s GDP.

Consortium member Professor Panos Deloukas of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said: “This is a tremendous opportunity and a challenge we have in building the right toolbox that will allow [us] to unite CVD patient data across Europe and implement precision medicine to improve cardiovascular healthcare.”

Personalised medicine, whereby prevention and treatment of disease is tailored to an individual’s unique genetic make-up and health information, has the potential to shifting the dial on the burden of CVD.

Genetic information is now more readily available than ever before as the cost of laboratory analysis continues to fall, and cutting edge AI techniques make it possible to combine vast amounts of data in record time.

NextGen will capitalise on these trends, bringing together clinical research organisations, universities, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and professional associations to integrate multiple sources of data on individual people.

This work is complex due to data privacy and governance requirements, the presence of multiple standards across Europe, varying formats of data and the sheer volume of data.

The first step will be to map out the initiatives already in progress to ensure that the project is truly ground-breaking and meets an unmet need.

Consortium members will then develop novel tools to merge different types of data in a secure way that upholds individual privacy and enables the information to be used in research.

The effectiveness of the methods for removing current barriers to data integration in CVD will be demonstrated via real-world pilot studies.

The work will complement the 1+ Million Genomes initiative, which aims to allow secure access to genomics and clinical data across Europe, and the European Health Data Space, a European Commission governance framework for the safe and secure exchange, use and reuse of health data.

Project coordinator Professor Pim van der Harst of University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, said: “No two people are exactly the same, and so it makes sense that each person needs a slightly different strategy to optimise their health.

“Personalised medicine is therefore the way forward for preventing heart disease, speeding up diagnosis and monitoring and treating people with CVD.

“To develop individualised therapies, we need to compile as much information as possible about individuals, and that’s where NextGen comes in.

“The unique picture we generate will then form the basis for improving cardiovascular health and wellbeing.”

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